31 December 2010

Birdhouse in the bushes

On a morning walk on Christmas day, Sully and I stepped out our front gate to complete silence.  Until then, I hadn't noticed that there's a pretty consistent hum of cars, trucks, and people in our neighborhood.  I stood and took it all in while Sully had her morning pee.

We headed across the street and I spotted a birdhouse hanging in the bushes.  I didn't get a chance to get a closeup look until today. 

Our apartment is in the orange house on the left side of the frame
A flock of sparrows or starlings, depending on the time of year, can often be spotted flying around and through the bushes.   Now they'll have a cozy place to rest during the cold winter months, thanks to one of the bird lovers in town.

22 December 2010

Icy brook

If I take the way to work that takes me past Brook's Bend's sheep, I drive right along the Connecticut River further down the road.  There are lots of scenic New England-y vistas, but this has been my favorite this week.  It's a brook that runs alongside the river if water levels are high enough - otherwise it's dry. 

The river's water level must have risen, the brook froze, then the water level fell again.  This has created something like those sidewalk puddles that freeze over then are stomped on by passersby, but on a bigger scale.

Every time I drive by, I want to stop the car and stomp around on the ice...

16 December 2010

2nd Street Baking Co.

2nd Street, TFMA

I try to make breakfast and tea at home to save money, but every once in a while I find myself without anything on hand.  When this happens, I often go to Turners Falls' trusty baking company (it's the first building in the photo with lots o' Christmas decorations).  In the two plus years that we've lived in town, the bakery has gone from a one-room cafe with a couple of cases of baked goods to a two-room cafe and lunch place with countless (I could count them, I guess) cases of baked goodies.

My most-visited cases are the savory croissant case (the morning pictured here I got a spinach and goat cheese croissant) and the breakfast pastry/muffin case.  My most memorable muffin purchase was a tasty peanut butter and banana concoction.  My most-often-purchased is probably the almond croissant.

The bakery was recently caught up in the whole Cooks Source debacle.  They hastily revoked their sponsorship of the local magazine, which was caught plagiarizing all kinds of articles and recipes, thus gaining 300 Facebook friends in 3 days.  Which is a lot for a bakery in a small town like ours.  All these new friends wanted to send them money for being so great with the whole thing, but they suggested instead that donations be made to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.  They also have different donation jars from week-to-week in lieu of tip jars.  Good people and good food.

12 December 2010

rainy December day

As of last night we had a dusting of snow in some spots.  As of this morning, we have a thin layer of ice on the ground.  And it's raining...

Michael, Sully, and I are bumming around the apartment, listening to records - a little Emmylou Harris earlier.  Jason Molina's Pyramid Electric Co. right now, which fits this rainy day just right.

10 December 2010

little flakes of snow

It either started snowing right when I left work today, or I just hadn't noticed that it had started while I was working.  It's a pretty light snow with tiny flakes which are starting to cover the ground just a little bit.  Sully's face was shiny with melted flakes when we came back from our after-work walk, on which we met a pug in a sweater who "barked" a little like this when Sully started being a jerk to him/her...

27 November 2010

home sweet home

We've finally arrived back at home after a couple days' driving from South Carolina.  It was a nice trip and I was dreading coming back to the cold.  Until someone cued the snow right as we entered Franklin County.  I think I'll sit on the couch and watch it come down for a little while...

The view from our living room.

23 November 2010

a prairie girl in the South

Michael, Sully, and I drove down to Myrtle Beach, SC this past Sunday and Monday...

somewhere in North Carolina

Sully mostly stayed in her bed on Michael's lap for the duration of the 15-hour drive.  The drive was pretty uneventful aside from a few stoplights here and there.

My parents and brother moved to Myrtle Beach earlier this year.  And it's warm.  The highs this week should be in the mid-70s.  Some of the leaves are changing color, but I don't think I've seen a bare tree yet.

Their place is right on the Intracoastal Waterway on the 2nd floor of an apartment building.  If we're inside,  we'll see the masts of boats float by every once in a while.

They're about a 5-minute drive away from the ocean.  We went there last night after we arrived, just in time to catch the sunset...

Dogs are allowed to stroll the beaches during the off-season.  My parents' dog Missy mostly walked, sometimes trotted around the beach.  Sully torpedoed up and down the shore, chasing birds.  They both smiled and wagged at everyone who walked by.

All of the beach here is public beach, unlike the beach where I grew up.  If you own a piece of land on the shore in Winnetka you own that portion of the beach as well.  Nice for the homeowners, but I much prefer Myrtle Beach's way of doing it.  There's a public parking lot on every block and you can walk for miles on the soft white sand. 

19 November 2010

Brook's Bend's sheeps

If I go the even-more-country-road-than-usual route to work, I usually see these guys and gals at Brook's Bend Farm in Montague...

I'll eventually get a better non-camera phone photo

The sheep live in a big pasture next to turkeys and chickens, which are often out of their enclosures  crossing the road as I approach in my car. 

Once or twice I've seen one of the owners (they're regulars at the cafe where Michael works) watching over his dogs herding the sheep with a cup of coffee in hand.  I wouldn't mind doing that very thing one day.

Throughout the summer, they set up portable fencing in different portions of the field.  Al and the dogs move the sheep from the barn to those spots each morning.  If they've put them on the road side of the fence I'll stop my car and just watch for a bit.  Especially if it's spring and there are babies running and playing.

As a project for one of his classes, Michael (and me and Sully for a bit) walked around the woods behind this field to see if he could find two adjacent types of forest.  He eventually did and figured out that there had been two different pasture fields, which had been abandoned at different points somewhat recently.  He was clued in by an old stone wall on one side of the property, as well as a couple different old and gnarly pasture trees among the younger trees in the forest.

16 November 2010

rainy fall day at school

During some of my longer breaks at school I walk around campus to sneak a peek at the forest that I'm spending my days next to.  When we first moved to Western Massachusetts, I took a hike here and came across some old logging trails, a wide path that used to be a trolley route, and a rod & gun club buried deep in the woods. 

On the walk that I take now, I come across a grove of white pines situated on top of a hill, opposite the school...

I had never noticed this tamarack/larch before today...

13 November 2010

the view from my swivel chair

I've looked out onto this field for almost four years now.  The first one or two summers I was at the Button Box, a family of rabbits lived in the bushes on the left of the frame.  I would catch sight of the mother rabbit presumably visiting her baby bunnies every once in a while.

I've caught a glimpse of various critters scurrying into the brush - one of them a fox who looked to be in pretty bad shape, and who I had seen earlier in the day running into the woods down the road.

Hot-air balloons float in the sky during leaf-peeping season.

A policeman sometimes uses the "bus-stop" (see it?) on the right as a speed trap.

And, in the foreground is our parking lot with its botched repaving job.  Two young guys filled each crack with something that doesn't blend with the blacktop and that allowed weeds to grow back up through it within a couple weeks.

Around this time of year, when the sun sets at around 4:30, I get to see the trees and fields provide a frame for sunsets...

11 November 2010

birthday astrology

"Technorati, a search engine for blogs, says there are well over 100 million blogs on the Internet, and that figure doesn't include millions of Chinese language blogs.  So self-expression is thriving on a global scale, right?  Not exactly.  Most blogs - the estimate is 94 percent - have not been updated for at least four months.  In accordance with the current astrological indicators I expect you to do something about this problem.  Refresh your blog in the coming week, or consider launching one if you don't have one.  But don't stop there.  Use every other way you can imagine to show the world who you are.  Be articulate and demonstrative and revelatory."  -- Astrology, 11/4/10-11/10/10
This blog starts a couple of days after my 30th birthday, with a little bit of influence from this horoscope (I'm a sucker for astrology) and a little bit of influence from a recent discovery of my husband's.  Namely, that his great-great-great grandfather was William B. Gould I, an escaped slave who served in the US Navy and kept a diary which has been published by William B. Gould IV.

This fact had been lost somewhere along his recent ancestry to be rediscovered by his uncle this past summer.  Reading about Gould's life started me thinking about our future descendants and the importance of giving them a little window into what life is like for us these days.  So, here it begins.  It won't be anywhere near as interesting as the Goulds' life, but here it goes anyway...